When more and more violent incidents become a common occurrence in communities, it’s imperative for municipalities to take initiative to educate citizens over basic medical and trauma care. Educated EMS agencies, firefighters and police officers are not the first to arrive on the scene of an incident. Everyday people are. So why not train them?
Preparation to save lives
First Care Providers is a fresh new program that originated on the West Coast in the last few years. FCP reaches out to fire and EMS agencies across the country to help them learn how to train regular civilians. The program was founded by Dr. Joshua Bobko, a national leader in the development of medical responses and an international lecturer over emergency medicine, and helped developed by Bill Harris, a retired US Navy veteran, with over 20 years of experience in combat deployments, and an active instructor.
FCP has all the information, training materials and expertise to help agencies create a successful outreach program within the community. The program emphasizes what is important for bystanders to look for in the injured and how to function with basic medical knowledge in order to take control of a chaotic situation.
Appropriate training will address immediate injuries such as bleeding out, hemorrhage control, trauma injuries and much more. FCP’s goal is to have civilians educated on how to properly treat and stabilize the critically wounded until professional medical assistance can arrive. Providing life-saving training to regular people will make communities aware and better prepared for potential violent incidents.
“It has only been fairly recently that EMS and fire agencies across the United States have started to embrace their role in active violence incidents,” commented Chief Rob Wylie, a retired volunteer and career firefighter with the Cottleville Fire Protection District in Missouri. “In the past we waited for law enforcement to clear an incident and then we go in to pick up the pieces. Our focus has changed. We now emphasize getting to victims earlier and performing lifesaving interventions as quickly as possible but sometimes that isn’t quick enough. The bystanders who are there when the incidents occur are in the best position to provide that first care.”
In the best of situations, first responders will still take minutes to arrive on the scene. Unfortunately, those few minutes would still be a deciding factor in the outcome of a victim’s life. By taking the logical step of training citizens, the victim faces better chances of surviving.
“Proof that these skills save lives was evident during the Boston Marathon bombing,” explained Wylie. “Civilians as well as professional rescuers dove right in and applied tourniquets, pressure dressings and helped evacuate the injured to hospitals. Those bystanders saved lives. Civilians who are there when the incident occurs can, with very modest amount of training, step in and make a difference.”
Taking initiative and proving the importance
From natural disasters to car accidents to shootings, FCP has the ability to not only prepare citizens with knowledge, but to create mental preparedness. Being empowered with knowledge can prevent the fight-or-flight instinct that can take over during an adrenaline rushing situation.
Being afraid is natural, but overcoming the fear to do what needs to be done is the recipe for bystanders transforming into heroes. There is a large amount of over reliance on the EMS structure, which puts communities into a state of content when they should be ready to provide basic medical care when the occasion occurs. When communities take initiative to work and learn together, they grow stronger together.
“One aspect of the program that I think is critical is the focus on mental preparedness,” elaborated Wylie. “Encouraging people to first and foremost believe that they can be the victims of a violent incident and, secondly, prepare themselves to respond. We teach ways to develop a survival mindset. That, coupled with common sense techniques, they can save not only their own lives, but the lives of the friends and family of a complete stranger.
It’s not magic. These are proven techniques that anyone can learn and master. That’s empowering. Being empowered moves people from a fear-driven reaction in a bad situation to a process and a method to deal with the aftermath. People want to know what to do in an emergency. It’s awareness versus fear.”
By being taught what to look for and care about first, individuals can avoid being hesitant in times of emergency. The public must be taught to utilize the resources available to them through the program when medical supplies aren’t always readily available. This will create independence for civilians during hectic and disastrous situations.
Change is difficult but unwillingness to adapt in today’s world will create a barrier between the ability to save a life or not. Over reliance on medical personnel must be addressed so communities can move beyond being helpless bystanders.
“There are many municipalities as well as state EMS and health systems looking into the First Care Provider program,” stated Wylie. “Our goal is to bring this training to as many people as possible to build resilient communities that are aware of the potential for violent incidents and prepared to make a difference in their communities. FCP is the next logical step following in the tradition of CPR and the use of AEDs (automated external defibrillators) by the general public.”
America isn’t the only place trying to incorporate FCP into local communities and everyday people. France is another country that has started taking initiative so local residents in Paris can help during terror attacks. The training in Paris follows the same path that training in America walks. While knowledge may not prevent disastrous and harmful situations from occurring, it will help save lives when needed.